Joe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and human rights advocate whose work with Dean Hamer, his partner in life and film-activism, explores oppression and empowerment among society’s most vulnerable communities.
Wilson & Hamer’s 2010 PBS film Out in the Silence, a Sundance Documentary Fund grantee, focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. These efforts were highlighted in impact reports by the Center for Social Media at American University and The Fledgling Fund.
Their 2014 PBS films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle brought Hawaiian cultural perspectives to the fore in national and international conversations on issues of gender diversity and inclusion. Kumu Hina was supported by Pacific Islanders in Communications and ITVS, won the Audience Award for its national PBS broadcast on Independent Lens, and received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. A Place in the Middle premiered at the Berlinale and won awards at numerous children’s festivals around the world. The film and educational toolkit, available to all for free, are at the center of a strength-based school-focused educational campaign.
In 2018, Wilson & Hamer released Leitis in Waiting and Lady Eva, a documentary feature and short about the conservative south Pacific Kingdom of Tonga’s evolving approach to gender fluidity.
Their most recent film, the animated short Kapaemahu, premiered in the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, won an unprecedented four Oscar-qualifying jury awards in international festivals, and was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2021.
Previously, Wilson served as Director of the Human Rights and Global Security Program at Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, D.C. and Producer of Pacifica National Radio’s public affairs program Democracy Now. He received a B.A. in Sociology and Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Mali.